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Paralyzed motocross racers to host event in support of UCI stem cell research


EVENT: Motocross racing icons David Bailey and Ernesto Fonseca will host a fundraiser to support the research efforts of Hans Keirstead, co-director of the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center and associate professor in the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at UC Irvine. Keirstead will present his research in hopes of raising money for pre-clinical safety studies of human stem cell therapies to treat spinal cord injuries, spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Bailey and Fonseca suffered spinal cord injuries as professional motocross racers for Team Honda.

DATE: Tuesday, July 24, 2007
TIME: 6:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Oakley USA Corporate Headquarters, 1 Icon, Foothill Ranch, Calif.

BACKGROUND: David Bailey was a leading motocross and Supercross racer in the 1980s, winning 30 national races during his eight-year career. In 1987, he crashed during practice and crushed his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Bailey has since become an expert motocross television commentator.

Ernesto Fonseca injured his spine in March 2006 while practicing on a California track for the Daytona Supercross. The injury left Fonseca without feeling from his chest down. Born in Costa Rica, Fonesca was named the American Motorcyclist Association Rookie of the Year in 1999, and he was the first to win AMA 125 Supercross titles on both coasts.

Hans Keirstead is a pioneer in the use of human embryonic stem cells in the study of spinal cord injuries. Keirsteadís laboratory was the first in the world to develop a method to restrict human embryonic stem cells so they generate large amounts of only one cell type in high purity. That type of cell, an oligodendrocyte, insulates connections in the spinal cord, allowing for the conduction of electricity. The treatment has improved mobility in rats with spinal cord injuries, and it now is in development for clinical trials.


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